Twice a year, elementary-aged children in the Buckeye Valley Local School District sign up for Delaware County Deputy Sheriff Fred Strawser’s self-defense class called RAD (Resisting Aggression Defensively).
“I did this last year,” Strawser said. “It filled up fast.”
Strawser, the school resource officer (SRO) for Buckeye Valley High School, said the class is open to both boys and girls and that he’ll have anywhere between 15-20 kids in a class that is taught over three consecutive days after school.
Strawser added he, with the help of three other SRO deputies, teaches kids about stranger danger along with three self-defense escape tactics in case an adult attacks or grabs them.
“We teach the basics,” he said. “If you see a gun, run away and tell someone, and we work on three scenarios if an adult grabs a kid. We teach them three basic moves to escape and get to a safe adult.”
Strawser said he invites all the parents to come and watch at the last class.
As he pointed to the bleachers in the Buckeye Valley West Elementary gym where the parents sat Thursday watching the kids perform their new skills, he said it was the smallest number of parents he had seen show up since starting the class.
While the kids think it’s fun to try and escape the grip of a fully padded Deputy Joe Elverson, SRO for the Delaware Area Career Center, by kicking and punching, the parents are even more grateful for the power the class gives their children to protect themselves.
“It helps them to learn about their personal space,” said Missy Mickley, one of the parents. “It gives the kids the control and confidence to get out of a bad situation.”
Virginia Finley said she is glad the class is available because “you see classes for women, but children are a vulnerable group as well.”
Finley’s son, Caleb, a third-grader, said he liked the class, but for different reasons.
“I like how it’s not all about kicking and punching but doing moves that will scare (an attacker) off,” he said.
“The class is great for the kids,” said Deputy Mike Scalley, a SRO. “It’s a great experience for the kids now that they are going into summer. And the classes helps us to connect with the kids on a whole different level.”
Scalley joined Strawser this year as a second SRO for the school district, covering both the elementary schools and the middle school. He said it gives him nine years to get to know the kids before they go to the high school building.
Before Scalley was hired as a SRO, Strawser traveled between all four of the district’s school buildings, which caused him to travel from one side of the county to the other.
Scalley said the SROs conduct a variety of classes once a month through the year, covering drugs, stealing, disobedience, water safety, and self-defense to mention a few. He said at the beginning of each school year, the kids get to meet Delaware County Sheriff Russ Martin, and the SROs show and discuss the gear they carry with the kids.
Scalley said he enjoys being a SRO much more than going on patrol.
“As SROs we see the best of people as compared to when we’re on patrol,” he said.